DVD Review: Peter Pan (Two-Disc Platinum Edition)
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Distributor: Walt Disney Video
· Clyde Geronimi
· Wilfred Jackson
· Hamilton Luske
· Bobby Driscoll
· Kathryn Beaumont
· Hans Conried
· IMDb: Peter Pan
· Peter Pan DVD
by R.J. Carter
Published: March 6, 2007
Nowhere this side of Oedipus Rex are the Campbellian heroic ideals (not to mention Freudian archetypes) as evident as they are in the story of "Peter Pan" -- the crusading boy who wouldn't grow up, went out and found himself a mother to love in Wendy Darling, and maintained a constant battle with his father figure, Captain Hook.
Bobby Driscoll provides the voice of Pan, the ever puerile icon of Never Land. He appears in the Darling family nursery with the fairy Tinker Bell, seeking out his lost shadow which had gotten away from him. Finding it -- and battling it -- he awakens Wendy Darling (voiced by Kathryn Beaumont, who also voiced the lead character for Disney's "Alice in Wonderland"). Wendy sews Peter's shadow back onto him, and as a reward, he takes her, along with her brothers Michael and John, to Never Land. Fueled by pixie dust, the three Darling children find they can fly, and navigate their way by taking the second star to the right, then straight on until morning.
Once in Never Land, the Darling children encounter several of Peter's friends -- and his enemies! There are the quarrelsome Lost Boys who live with Peter in Hangman's Tree. There are the Indian warriors, with whom Peter makes peace when he rescues the kidnapped Indian princess, Tiger Lily. Wendy is not only the target of Tinker Bell, who carries an unrequited torch for Peter, but also of the mermaids in Mermaid Lagoon, who aren't keen on there being another girl in Peter's life.
Of course, ask anyone who's ever read or seen "Peter Pan", and the first character they'll mention other than Peter will no doubt be Captain James Hook, the one-handed pirate captain with the prosthetic that shares his name. In keeping with the father figure theme and tradition of the "Peter Pan" stage plays, Captain Hook is voiced by the same actor who voices the blusterous Mr. Darling -- Hans Conried, who later went on to also voice cartoon villain Snidely Whiplash.
Come Fly With Me. Peter prepares to leave
for the mythical Never Land.
With his first mate, the bumbling and drunken Mr. Smee, Hook will not rest until he avenges himself on Peter Pan for the loss of his hand. The only thing Hook fears is the ticking crocodile, who swallowed Hook's hand -- along with an alarm clock, the tick-tock of which always alerts Hook as to when the beast is about. First capturing Tiger Lily, Hook eventually learns the location of Peter's hideout from a jealous Tinker Bell. Capturing the Lost Boys and the Darlings, he offers them the choice of joining him as pirates -- or walking the plank! Of course, Peter comes flying to the rescue and, with help from the double-crossed Tinker Bell, bests Hook and takes command of the pirate ship, which he then uses to fly the Darlings home.
Man vs. Boy. Captain Hook duels with his
young nemesis, Peter Pan.
This Disney Platinum Edition is replete with bonus features, spread over both discs. In addition to the main feature, the first disc includes an extended sneak peek at the upcoming Disney movie, "Tinker Bell", and the option to jump directly to the songs in the film with karaoke-style lyrics displayed. There's also a read-along story, "Peter's Playful Prank".
The coolest feature on disc one, however, is the audio commentary track. Roy Disney leads off, and is joined in several places by Leonard Malten, Marc Davis, Kathryn Beaumont, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, Margaret Kerry, John Canemaker, Ward Kimball, and others who explore this picture which is one of only three on which all nine of Disney's famous Nine Old Men worked on as directing animators.
Disc Two is also full of Disney treasures, divided up into the sections which by now should be familiar to all Disney DVD collectors. Under Music & More, we are treated to a deleted song, "The Pirate Song", which is played over pencil sketches of the scene in which it would have appeared. Beyond that, however, is a beautiful brand new song written and composed by Richard Sherman. Working off snippets of lyrics that were found in the archives of "Peter Pan" artwork and scripts, Sherman delivers a classic brand new sixty-year-old song, "Never Land". We spend two and a half minutes with Sherman as we learn the history of the song, and are then taken directly into the next segment, where Paige O'Hara (who voices Disney's Belle from "Beauty and the Beast") blows the audience away with her delivery of "Never Land".
That should have been the end of this section. But aiming for the modern tween demographic, Disney includes one more music video. "The Second Star to the Right" is a bland hiphop-ish tune delivered by tween group T-Squad. Talk about going from a peak to a valley; this is a segment this reviewer could have happily missed, but I admit I'm hardly the target audience.
Moving on to the Games & Activities, we start with activities, the longest of which is... "Peter Pan"! It's the movie all over again, only this time the subtitles are turned on, highlighting each word as it is spoken or sung, creating a feature-length read-along experience.
Tarrrget Practice. Hit the pirates with rocks,
but don't accidentally hit your friends.
After that, there's "Camp Never Land" where the viewer can train to be a Lost Boy (or Girl, for that matter.) The first challenge is "Smee's Sudoku Challenge", which offers Normal, Advanced 4x4, and Advanced 9x9 levels. The game board is laid over a 3D background of Never Land, as the rules are explained by Peter himself. The player starts by learning with symbols before moving on to the traditional 1-9 set of numbers.
Once you've proven you've got the brain power for it by solving the pirate puzzles, you move on to develop your aim with a little "Tarrrget Practice". Again with the 3D backdrop, the player gets to throw rocks and tomatoes at pop-up wooden targets which are painted with the image of Captain Hook and his pirates. But take care -- some of the targets are painted with Peter, Wendy, and the Lost Boys, and you don't want to hit any of them!
Finally, the player is ready for "Tink's Fantasy Flight". This one is very difficult to play on a keyboard (at least it was for me) but is much easier with a television and remote control. The rules are simple -- you simply have to follow Tinker Bell in flight, using the up, down, left and right arrows of your controller. The compass on the screen will light up the directions you need to go, while Hook and his men fire at you from below with treasure, fruits, and even cannonballs!
If you're a Disney history lover, you'll probably delve straight into the Backstage Disney section, which is a goldmine of documentary features. The first feature, "You Can Fly: The Making of 'Peter Pan'", is a sixteen-minute featurette introduced by Walt Disney and Tinker Bell. The history of "Peter Pan" as a character is explained, and we see scenes from the "Peter Pan" silent film. You'll get to see some of the initial development artwork by Mary Blair before the first attempt was scrapped due to World War II.
Of particular interest is the eight minute segment, "In Walt's Words: 'Why I Made "Peter Pan"'". This is a dramatic recreation, set to a reading of an article published in Brief magazine, written by Walt Disney himself and discovered in the archives with the script and artwork.
"Tinker Bell: A Fairy's Tale" is an eight minute history of Peter's perpetual fairy friend, starting when she was merely a ball of darting light in stage plays, then a female fairy seen in the silent film. Marc Davis comments on his designs for the character, and how as a pure pantomime character who didn't speak Tink relied on her emotional responses to communicate. To get everything just right, Davis used a live model (and, in fact, so did the rest of the animators for their characters). Davis's model was Margaret Kerry, who assumed various poses and pantomimes for all of Tink's scenes to come out perfect. Kerry also got a speaking role in the film, voicing one of the mermaids in the lagoon with June Foray. And, of course, this is Tinker Bell's big year, so the featurette concludes with a mention of the awaited "Tinker Bell" full-length feature.
Tinker Bell Lives! Margaret Kerry modelled
Tinker Bell's scenes for the animators.
In "The 'Peter Pan' That Almost Was", we get a twenty-minute look at the original artwork of some ideas that were considered but ultimately discarded. "Peter Pan" could have been quite a different story than the one finally presented!
If you love scanning through pages of artwork, then the "Art Galleries" section will be right up your alley. Using your remote control, you can pan through segments of Visual Development, David Hall Concept Art, Mary Blair Concept Art, Character Design, Storyboard Art, Layouts and Backgrounds, Production Photos, Live-Action Reference, and Publicity. A full virtual scrapbook is here at your disposal.
Rounding out this section is "The Peter Pan Story", a twelve minute featurette restored from 1952. In black and white, this documentary is a behind-the-scenes look at making a feature back before such features were the norm.
The final special feature on the disc is "Peter Pan's Virtual Flight", a two-minute animation that is a single camera pan from England to Never Land. The cool thing about this feature is that you have the option to set it to loop, which could keep your children flying anywhere from four minutes to four hours (although the latter is certainly not recommended.)
Audio options for the main feature include English in 5.1 Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix, the Restored Original Theatrical Mono Soundtrack, French or Spanish. Subtitles are available in English.
Previews on this disc include "The Jungle Book" 40th Anniversary Platinum Edition, "Meet the Robinsons", "Peter Pan: Return to Neverland", and "Tinker Bell". Additional selectable sneak peeks include "The Aristocats" Special Edition, "The Little Mermaid III", and "Ratatouille".